Whooping Cough In The News Again

Bordetella pertussis on Charcoal Agar - detail

Bordetella pertussis on Charcoal Agar - detail (Photo credit: Nathan Reading)

I’ve written about whooping cough (pertussis) before. One time recently was when it was announced that it was being recommended that adults over the age of 65 also get pertussis vaccinations. Another was about a study that hinted that the current pertussis vaccine for children faded early. Another new study now supports that last assertion but also provides data suggesting that in children between the ages of 8 and 12 the vaccine success rate approximately halved.

As a result it would seem obvious that the current booster shot, given at age 13, should be moved up and given earlier, but it turns out to be more complicated than it seems. The booster shot has not been approved for children under the age of 9 and moving the vaccination regimen around might not result in any significant gain in effectiveness.

Despite the relatively low effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine, the CDC and doctors still strongly recommend it because any reduction in the infection rate has a significant impact on keeping outbreaks under control. In addition the CDC has started to recommend that pregnant women and other adults also get shots in order to ‘cocoon’ infants who are in the most danger from whooping cough.

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